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New T. natans caresheet (need feedback)

This is a discussion on New T. natans caresheet (need feedback) within the Gymnophiona: Caecilians forums, part of the Other Amphibians category; Hello, some months ago I decided to compile a caresheet for this specie since I found a paper with information ...

Gymnophiona: Caecilians For the discussion of Caecilians (also known as "Eels").

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Old 31st July 2015   #1 (permalink)
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Default New T. natans caresheet (need feedback)

Hello,
some months ago I decided to compile a caresheet for this specie since I found a paper with information I couldn't find in any other caresheet. Only today I decided to finish it and post it here.
I need to say that I don't own any of these animals, so any feedback of someone who has them or anyone who has different references with information to add would be appreciated.

If someone could also double check the information here with the references that would be great too.


Caresheet of Typhlonectes natans
Compiled by Andr Limede


Overview

Gymnophiona is probably the least studied order of tetrapods (Superclass Tetrapoda), due to the secretive nature of these creatures in conjunction with their apparent disinteresting appearance. However these creatures have distinct features, not found on other groups. All species of caecilians have a chemo-sensorial organ, known as tentacle that incorporates elements of the eye and the vomeronasal organ. This sense can be described as a hybrid between vision and olfaction; scientists aren’t yet sure how these systems work together, in part because caecilians are almost blind (skin covered eyes), but it aids the caecilian forage for food. Caecilians are the only order of amphibians that have internal fertilization, being the male equipped with an organ, called phallodeum.
T. natans, it’s one of the most well studied species of caecilians, in part due to their full aquatic lifestyle, which makes them easier to be identified and caught. As a result, this is also the most common specie of caecilian in the pet trade (however, this doesn’t imply that this specie is readily available or is easy to find). Currently, T. natans has a status of LC (Least Concern) given by the IUCN back in 2004; this means that the wild population of this specie is stable or that there aren’t any apparent threats that may cause the decline of the population in the near future.

Description

Adult size: 40-60cm (16-23’’) The females are larger than males.

Diameter: 3cm (1,2’’) Pregnant females may reach 6cm (2,4’’)

Life span: 10+ years

Distribution: Colombia, on the Cauca and Magdalena rivers; and in Venezuela in the Lake Maracaibo Basin

Diet: Dead invertebrates, thawed fish (saltwater fish preferably, to avoid cross contamination; however, it shouldn’t be offered regularly, since it has been linked to hypovitaminosis B), crustaceans, mollusks, beef heart, amphibian pellets and bloodworms.

Toxicity: There is good evidence that this specie has at least some degree of toxicity; however they can be housed with other fish, with no repercussions. Some authors suggest that for the toxin to be released into the water, the animal needs to be agitated (e.g.: being agitated by a fish trying to eat it).

Sexual dimorphism: Diameter of the cloacal disc of the males is larger while it has a more elongated and slit appearance on females.

Suitable temperature range: 27-30C (80-86F); as low as 23C (74F) it's also endured, but keep in mind that these animals are tropical.

pH: 6-7 Even though people suspect that this parameter doesn’t need to be precise. These were the values obtained in measurements made in their natural habitat.

dGH: 3,9-5,9 (<8,4 may cause skin lesions)

Tank

Since this specie can reach a reasonable size, the least recommended volume it's of 60L (16 gallons US) per individual.
In nature, they were found associated with flowing water, and the river bed is usually composed of big boulders, gravel and sand. Apparently, this specie also likes to hang out in roots of floating plants. Your tank should also have several hiding spots.
Taking these facts into consideration, your tank could have sand as substrate (T. natans may burrow occasionally), with large boulders stacked in a way to create various crevices. Pottery, PVC pipes and driftwood can also be used as additional hiding spots. In one tank end, you could use a water pump to make the water flow (don’t place it near the surface), and in the other end you can have a cluster of floating plants, if the tank is big enough, the water flow of the pump shouldn't affect the floating plants too much.
Some author’s advice the use of a floating platform, it might not get much use, but just in case, your tank should have one as well. A heater guard should also be used, since caecilians might wrap around it, and possibly get burned. Alternatively you can make your own in line heater, like this video explains:


In addition to what the video mentions, I would recommend the use of some type of fine mesh in your in line heater, so that you can be sure that any sneaky caecilian won’t get in. This is a very efficient way of heating your tank.
The use of a powerful external filter is essential since caecilians are messy feeders and shed quite frequently. The recommended filter it’s one that filters at least 3 times the volume of your tank in an hour.
Plants that have been found in the habitats of this specie consist of:
-Pistia stratiotes
-Eichornia sp.
-Colocasia spp. (Potentially toxic)

Fish species that have been found in the habitats of this specie consist in:
-Caquetaia kraussii
-Hoplias malabaricus (Predator)
-Hyphessobrycon erythrostigma (Possibly)
-Hyphessobrycon columbianus (Possibly)
-Poecilia caucana
-Pimelodus blochii

If you pretend to keep any fish species alongside your caecilians, add the fishes a few months after the caecilians, or after the caecilians are used to the food you are giving them, so they don’t associate the fishes as food.
Caecilians are well known for being extremely capable of escaping tanks, so you shouldn't overlook this fact, and a secure and heavy lid should be provided. The air inside the tank shouldn't have any currents, and should be warmer than the water itself; as some authors say this will prevent health issues related to respiratory functions.

Breeding

These animals need a environmental trigger to start breeding. In nature, this occurs when the dry season starts and the basins where these animals live, shrink to shallow pools (September to October). Due to this fact, a good strategy to trigger reproduction in captivity it's to lower the water level of the tank, lower the pH below 5 and to rise the organic content of the water, especially nitrates (this last point can be accomplished by delaying water changes).
When this setup is established the animals are expected to breed soon after. The copulation may last some hours and at some point it might even appear that the animals have drowned. The animals might copulate more than once in period of time of approximately one week.
After the animals have finished copulating the tanks conditions were restored back to normal. Since these animals are viviparous, the females are expected to give birth to live young between 10 and 11 months after the copulation period finished, litters of 6 aren't uncommon and rarely 11 young will be delivered. The babies measure between 10 and 15cm (4-6'') and are born with external gills that are discarded some days after the delivery.
Since these animals are smaller and weaker, it is recommended to either change them to a aquarium with lower water level or to lower the water level of the main tank, making it easier for them to get air from the surface. Animals will reach sexual maturity when they are 5 to 6 years old.
Due to the long pregnancy it is recommended to let the female rest at least one year after giving birth, before she copulates again; not doing so might put the animals health at risk. In contrast males might be able to reproduce annually.

References

Parkinson, R.W., 2004. Caecillian care and breeding. Herpetological Bulletin, (March).
Pasmans, F., Janssen, H. & Sparreboom, M., 2014. Salamanders, keeping and breeding
Tapley, B., 2009. WAZA Husbandry Guidelines for aquatic typhlonectid caecilians ( Typhlonectes sp .). Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, pp.1–18.
Tapley, B. & Acosta-Galvis, A.R., 2010. Distribution of T. natans in Colombia, environmental parameters and implications for captive husbandry. Herpetological Bulletin, 39(113), pp.33–39.

PDF version of these documents can be downloaded here: https://www.mediafire.com/folder/11p...sv79/T._natans


A PDF version of this caresheet can be downloaded here:Caresheet of Typhlonectes natans




Last edited by Otterwoman; 25th August 2015 at 11:46. Reason: author's request
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Old 1st August 2015   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: New T. natans caresheet (need feedback)

You should add that a very secure fitting and heavy lid is required as well. These guys will take any and every opportunity to escape, even through the smallest of holes. I personally lost one to an aquatic escape. I have also heard that the air above the water should be warmer and draft-free to prevent respiratory problems.



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Old 1st August 2015   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: New T. natans caresheet (need feedback)

Hi methos5K,
I say briefly that they will escape if they have the chance.
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Originally Posted by Limede View Post
As a final note, keep in mind that caecilians can escape easily from a tank. Take this into consideration when preparing your tank.
But you are right maybe I should expand a bit more on this point.

Also, regarding the high air temperatures and air drafts, do you have personal experience with that? Can you find the paper where you read that? If so that would be great.



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Old 2nd August 2015   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: New T. natans caresheet (need feedback)

I am sorry I originally missed that, it was very early and I had not had my coffee yet . The emphasis on how they can escape through the smallest of openings or by brute force cannot be understated IMO. Only Octopi are better escape artists.

Here is the book I read about respiratory problems.

Pasmans, Frank, et al. Salamanders: Keeping and Breeding. Munster: Nat und Tier - Verlag GmbH, 2014. pp 242-243. ISBN 978-3-86659-265-0.

I once had a 90 gallon with several of these fascinating creatures. Loved your article!



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Old 2nd August 2015   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: New T. natans caresheet (need feedback)

Thanks man, I apreciate that.
I'm actualy expecting that exact book to arrive this week, so I'll add that after I read it myself

Do you have any pictures of the tank? Also, what food items would you give them the most?
Anything you can add from your experience would be awesome.

Later this week I should have this updated.



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Old 5th August 2015   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: New T. natans caresheet (need feedback)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Limede View Post
Also, what food items would you give them the most?
In general I feed mine the same diet as my sirens and axolotls - primarily small earthworms, but also 'axolotl' pellets.

The caecilian lives with a few tetra and a heap of cherry shrimp. If I feed the fish some frozen bloodworm he'll eat what doesn't get eaten, and he goes absolutely insane for the dried turtle shrimp mix stuff. (don't worry, no turtles in the tank!)

Interestingly, he will only eat so much before he goes off to scrape himself against the tank contents to shed his skin. If he's still hungry he'll go back for more, but he won't just keep eating until all the food is gone. The shrimp take care of any leftover pellets but I have to keep a good eye on the tank for any leftover worms.



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Default Re: New T. natans caresheet (need feedback)

Chopped nightcrawlers and whole earthworms were always the main staple, but live bloodworms were fed sometimes when I had them. Any pictures of my tanks have long been lost to time, I had to give up my aquarium interests when I moved to college.

My caecilian tank was a 90 gallon long, rather sparsely planted tank. They burrowed in the fine gravel frequently, tearing up the place! I kept them with a shoal of Metynnis argenteus. There were a few clay flower pots that I modified a bit for hiding spots, they liked to 'ball-up' together in them. A large Magnum canister filter proved a small amount of current.

I haven't seen these for sale for many years. They were quite common in my local fish shops in the late 80's and early 90's; but they seem to be rarely imported now.



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Default Re: New T. natans caresheet (need feedback)

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Originally Posted by Methos5K View Post
I haven't seen these for sale for many years. They were quite common in my local fish shops in the late 80's and early 90's; but they seem to be rarely imported now.
I desperately want to pick up some more, it was always my plan to have a bundle, but have yet to find any more for sale.

I know what you mean about them tearing up the place. I've never seen mine so purposeful as when I've had a nice tidy up in the tank.



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Old 25th August 2015   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: New T. natans caresheet (need feedback)

Main post edited with some of the information in the book "Salamanders, keeping and breeding".
(thanks to otterwoman!)

If someone has more observations to make, feel free to post them



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